The Color Wheel
Through his collections of poems Timothy Steele has earned the reputation as a highly regarded poet who continue to work in meter. This volume brings together 35 new poems that extend the scope and deepen the spirit of his previous work. While always faithful to the richness and complexity of experience, the poems in The Color Wheel aim to be clear and accessible. They blend imaginistic detail and reflection and bring to contemporary subjects what Steele calls "the preservative virtues of formal care".
In his third collection, Steele ( Uncertainties and Rest) sounds a tone that is pleasantly reminiscent of the 18th-century: rational, clear and balanced. The tone accommodates a broad range of thought, play and form. Steele's natural sound here, effortlessly elaborated, is that of a hushed lyric with energy to spare. His decorum is flexibly contemporary, absorbing easily the jauntiness of Los Angeles in "Fae," and the regrets of a retired prizefighter in "Cory in April." Technically, Steele is superbly commanding, offering witty and subtle rhymes that lilt just slightly at the end of carefully metrical lines ("wind"/ "capuchinned"; "Merciful"/ "swell"; "his"/ "lettuces"). His technical esprit, in fact, is so impressive that one may be tempted to read the poems as abstracted formal expressions. But to do so would mean missing Steele's thematic range, from satirizing urge to wistfulness and a more profound consciousness of pain. He is also a deft portraitist (of women; of sea lions). The "moderating squeeze" of his aesthetic is both prudent and liberating.
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